Summary of WHA Resolutions Relevant to the Code

Code Essentials 3: Responsibilities of Health Workers under the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent WHA resolutions.
IBFAN - International Code documentation Centre, Penang, 2018.

Updated August 2018.

Year Number Resolutions
1981 WHA34.22
  • Code overwhelmingly adopted by WHA ( 118 in favour, 1 no, 3 abstentions).
  • Stresses that adoption and adherence to the Code is a minimum requirement. Member States are urged to implement the Code into national legislation, regulations and other suitable measures.
1982 WHA35.26
  • Recognizes that commercial promotion of breastmilk substitutes contributes to an increase in artificial feeding and calls for renewed attention to implement and monitor the Code at national and international levels.
1984 WHA37.30
  • Requests that the Director General work with Member States to implement and monitor the Code and to examine the promotion and use of foods unsuitable for infant and young child feeding
1986 WHA39.28
  • Urges Member States to ensure that small amounts of breastmilk substitutes needed for the minority of infants are made available through normal procurement channels and not through free or subsidized supplies.
  • Directs attention of Member States to the following:
    • Any food or drink given before complementary feeding is nutritionally required may interfere with breastfeeding and therefore should neither be promoted nor encouraged for use by infants during this period.
    • Practice of providing infants with follow up milks is “not necessary”.
1988 WHA41.11
  • Request the Director General to provide legal and technical assistance to Member States in drafting or implementing the Code into national measures.
1990 WHA43.3
  • Highlights the WHO/UNICEF statement on “protection, promoting and supporting breastfeeding: the special role of maternity services” which led to the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in 1992.
  • Urges Member States to ensure that the principles and aim of the Code are given full expression in national health and nutrition policy and action.
1994 WHA47.5
  • Reiterates earlier calls in 1986, 1990 and 1992 to end “free or low cost supplies” and extends the ban to all parts of the health care system; effectively superseding the provisions of Art.6.6 of the Code.
  • Provides guidelines on donation of breastmilk substitutes in emergencies.
1996 WHA49.15
  • Calls on Member States to ensure that:
    1. Complementary foods are not marketed for or used to undermine exclusive and sustained breastfeeding;
    2. financial support to health professionals does not create conflicts of interests;
    3. Code monitoring is carried out in an independent, transparent manner free from commercial interest.
2001 WHA54.2
  • Sets global recommendation of “6 months” exclusive breastfeeding, with safe and appropriate complementary foods and continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond.
2002 WHA55.25
  • Endorses the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding which confines the baby food companies’ role to 1. Ensure quality of their products and 2. Comply with the Code and subsequent WHA resolutions, as well as national measures.
  • Recognizes the role of optimal infant feeding to reduce the risk of obesity.
  • Alerts that micronutrient interventions should not undermine exclusive breastfeeding.
2005 WHA58.32
  • Asks Member States to:
    1. Ensure that nutrition and health claims for breastmilk substitutes are not permitted unless national/.regional legislation allows;
    2. Be aware of the risks of intrinsic contamination of powdered infant formulas and to ensure this information be conveyed through label warnings;
    3. Ensure that financial support and other incentives for programmers and health professionals working in infant and young child health do not create conflicts of interest.
2006 WHA59.11
  • Member States to make sure the response to the HIV pandemic does not include non-Code compliant donations of breastmilk substitutes or the promotion thereof.
2006 WHA59.21
  • Commemorates the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Code; welcomes the 2005 Innocenti Declaration and asks WHO to mobilize technical support for Code implementation and monitoring.
2008 WHA61.20
  • Urges Member States to scale up efforts to monitor and enforce national measures and to avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Investigate the safe use of donor milk through human milk banks for vulnerable infants, mindful of national laws, cultural and religious beliefs.
2010 WHA63.23
  • WHA urges Member States to develop and strengthen legislative and regulatory measures to control the marketing of breastmilk substitutes to give effect to the Code and resolutions.
  • To end inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children and to ensure that claims not be permitted for foods for infants and young children.
  • To ensure that required breastmilk substitutes in emergency responses are purchased and distributed according to strict criteria.
2012 WHA65.60
  • WHA urges Member states to put into practice the comprehensive implementation plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition, including:
    • Developing or strengthening legislative, regulatory or other measures to control the marketing of breastmilk substitutes.
    • Establishing adequate mechanisms to safeguard against potential conflicts of interest in nutrition action.
  • The Director General of WHO is requested to:
    • Provide clarification and guidance on the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children as mentioned in WHA 63.23.
    • Develop processes and tools to safeguard against possible conflicts of interest in policy development and implementation of nutrition programmes.
2014 WHA67(9)
  • Director-General was requested to provide clarification and guidance by end of 2015 on the meaning of “ ending inappropriate promotion of food for infants and young children” as cited in resolution WHA63.23 on infant and young child nutrition.
2016 WHA 69/9
  • Ending inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children up to the age of three years.
2018 WHA 71/A71
  • Reinvigorate the BFHI, Reinvigorate the BFHI, implement and strengthen national monitoring and enforcement mechanisms for effective measures to give effect to the International Code and subsequent relevant WHA resolutions; take all necessary measures to end inappropriate marketing of foods for infants and young children; take all necessary measures to ensure appropriate infant and young child feeding during emergencies and celebrate World Breastfeeding Week.

Retyped from IBFAN document by Jen Peddlesden April 2013. Adapted with permission by IBFAN 2013, 2015, 2018

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